Councillor Adam Ogilvie was appointed as the Executive Board Member for Adult Social Care in May 2013, we caught up with him to ask for his thoughts on his recent appointment.
You were appointed as Executive Board Member for Adult Social Care in May. What have been your first impressions of the Directorate?
My first impressions of the Directorate have been around how the users of our services are very much at the core of what we do; something that you don’t necessarily see in other parts of the council. In Adult Social Care, whether it is for older people, whether it’s for carers, learning disability or mental health service users, what I really get a sense of, is that we are trying our very best to make sure that the service users are actually part of shaping what we provide and how. That the very people who use are services are really and genuinely involved in what we’re all trying to achieve – Better Lives for People in Leeds.
As I say, other parts of the council don’t necessarily do that and perhaps this is something that we need to help other sections of the council do. That’s a big congratulations to the teams in Adult Social Care because it really is noticeable from someone coming in with a fresh pair of eyes.
Why did you want to become a councillor?
I suppose all politicians say this, but I live in the ward that I represent. I lived there before I got elected and I really wanted to make a difference in the area – Beeston and Holbeck. It’s an area with quite a lot of challenges, but with a lot of great stuff happening too. I wanted to play a small part in helping to make it a better place for people to live and work in. Then obviously from there, I had the opportunity to go on the cabinet and do some citywide work as well, which is about trying to make Leeds a better place for everyone.
What particularly interests you about Adult Social Care?
The thing that interests me about Adult Social Care is that it’s all about people. I’m a people person; I love meeting people and finding out what makes them tick and how we can help improve their lives, for a better life. In Adult Social Care, again whether it’s older people, whether it’s people with learning disabilities or mental health or sensory impairments, it’s all about helping to give them dignity in their lives. It’s a really exciting time.
What does a “Better Life for People in Leeds” mean for you?
I think a ‘Better Life for People in Leeds’, Adult Social Care’s on-going commitment, is very much around helping people to maintain or retain control of their lives. It’s helping them to live as independently as possible in their own homes doing the things that they want to do. It’s also about helping them to help us shape our services better.
What difference do you believe you can make for people in Leeds to have a better life?
I hope by being a champion for people, for some of our more vulnerable adults in the city; older people with learning disabilities, mental health, or those with sensory impairments. I really want to be a champion within the service but also in the council and the city so we cannot only maintain services but improve services for these people too.
Have you met anyone whose life has been improved by using our services?
I suppose an example in my ward which I’ve known for quite a while, is the Cardinal Court Complex. I think it opened in the year I got elected and I’ve had a lot of involvement with it since. It has really helped to give older people dignity in as much as they are able to stay in their own homes whilst getting the support they need. From talking to a lot of the residents there, it really has helped to change their lives. Previously they were perhaps struggling but now, they get support and still have their independence.
If you were an older person in the city today, perhaps with several on-going health conditions, what do you think you might want to see change?
I think making it easier to negotiate your way through the system. It is probably still too complicated and fragmented; different bits of support you get are provided by different organisations, so sometimes there is a divide between social care, between health, between mental health. I think the integration agenda is something that we need to continue to look at to see how we can bridge that gap. It’s about making it simple for the very people that need our services.
Do you think the integration of Adult Social Care with the NHS will help significantly towards that?
I think that this is a real positive step in the right direction and I’m looking forward to actually going to see the integrated teams. It has to help having the different elements of staff together so that they can put the person at the forefront of what’s needed. It definitely is a really good first step.
If you could immediately change one single, concrete thing about care and support services in the city, what would it be?
If I had a magic wand, I would obviously ask for lots more money from the Government! That’s not necessarily going to happen but one thing we are clear about is, in administration we’re going to put more of a diminishing resource into Adult Social Care. The cake might be getting smaller but a bigger chunk of that cake is and will continue to go into Adult Social Care. I guess it’s about resources really and how we can work smarter but also joining up with other services, health in particular.
What role do you believe communication plays within Adult Social Care?
Communications plays a crucial role of course; sharing real-life stories and what we’re doing in Leeds to make lives better for our residents. Coming in to this role I’ve already seen lots of incredibly positive things I was not aware was happening in Adult social care.
I think communications has a really important role whether it is through case studies, or shouting about the really good work that the entire staff team and Adult Social Care are doing. It probably, to a certain extent, goes unnoticed by the wider public so I think communications has a role to play in actually sharing the really good work we do. You only need to read the Better Lives Leeds weekly blog to see the extent of what we’re doing with our partners to really make an impact on people’s lives. There is a lot of negative stuff going on in the world, and Adult Social Care are doing some fantastic work so let’s shout about it!
Our thanks go to Councillor Ogilvie for sharing his thoughts with us. If you’d like to hear more, please follow the Better Lives Blog as Councillor Ogilvie will be sharing what he’s been up to on a regular basis.